harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
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harsens_rob

Giallo Movie Review : The Cat O' Nine Tails - Part I of II


The Cat O'Nine Tails
(1971)


Starring: James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak

DIR: Dario Argento


Blurb: When a simple robbery at a research institute leads to a series of brutal murders, a blind puzzle maker and a tenacious reporter begin their own investigation of the crimes. With nine different clues to follow, they uncover a shocking web of twisted genetics and dark sexual secrets that will finally lead them to a shattering climax of violence and suspense.

Originally released in 1971, The Cat O' Nine Tails secured the international reputation of director Dario Argento as 'The Italian Hitchcock'. This is the definitive version of Argento's masterful second film, now fully remastered from its original camera negative and presented completely uncut and uncensored in widescreen for the first time ever in America.


My Blurbage: The Cat O'Nine Tails is one of the many films I was taken to as a tyke, along with my 3 years younger brother, Russ. We'd had a station wagon back then... in its day, it was the soccer-mom van. You had kids, you got a station wagon. And, being the 70s, it was about a long as an aircraft carrier with storage space behind the back seat that was close to the size of a whole room (a small one, like a bathroom, but still - it was huge space). We saw it at a drive in that used to exist in our area... I want to say that it was at John-R road and 10 mile, but that was a long while ago, and I haven't advanced in my brain-age enough quite yet to recall all of the details of childhood without remembering how to navigate my own house, yet. Close - I seem to keep forgetting that there is a corner in the hallway and constantly run my right side into it.... Anyway, this was definitely (even if it was censored in those days - and what exactly was cut, I couldn't tell you) one of the R-flicks that we probably shouldn't have seen. I only caught part of it, I think, because it was the second billed movie, which meant it was really late (for us kids) when it was on. And, it had an involved mystery plot, rather than a monster, so who cared?

But... though I did not remember seeing this film at all, there is one scene I saw on re-watch that made me sit up and shout, "Holy shit! I've seen this! This is that memory that has been plaguing my mind for years!" (I'm very verbose when I exclaim stuff to myself.) We'll discuss that more when we reach it, including the fact that I had completely, 100% misinterpreted this scene in my memory, which makes me think I probably napped through a lot of this film in the drive-in....


The usual warnings apply, including the reveal of the killer and his half-assed reasons (in giallo, the reasons for the murder spree are nearly always half-assed). Also, some of the many screen caps are corpse related.



Scene 01: Our first view of our movie is of a cityscape. It is late at night and the streets are very quiet. Over the title and the credits, we pan over this city until we stop at a particular block. There is a lone car and as we look down upon it from a high, rear view, we can see the shadow of at least two people in it. From the bottom of the screen, a little girl and a man walk up the block toward the car.


Scene 02: The little girl is leading the man up onto the sidewalk, still walking in the direction of the lone car. The gentleman looks to be the little girl's grandfather, but is her uncle, instead. He's walking with dark glasses on and a white tipped cane. The little girl is filling him in on her day at school.



'Cookie' and his niece walk by the car and the driver catches uncle's attention with talk of not intending to blackmail someone sitting in the passenger seat. We don't get to see this person, as he's slouched down and in deep shadow. The driver tells him that he has to pass on some sort of information to someone and is warning the passenger that it's coming.



'Cookie' stops to pretend to need to tie his shoe, and because he's a bit of a busybody, he instructs Lori to glance into the car and tell him about the men talking. Since this is a giallo, that probably wasn't the best of ideas... of course, neither was telling somebody you were going to spread damaging information on them on a silent street with the car windows open to the night air, so there is blame to go around.

The passenger of the car, notices Lori look through the windshield at him, as we note by the brief POV switch.


Commentary: Since this is a giallo, the killer will a) be a nutso-cuckoo and b) be prone to threatening the most tangent of cast members with death, no matter how illogical or dangerous it may be in leaving evidence behind that could lead back to him/her.

Gialli tend to have high and/or elaborate murder sequences, which necessitates that some people will be threatened with death for the most flimsy of reasons. I think, for the most part, The Cat O' Nine Tails avoids this pretty well. What it doesn't avoid, in fact what it embraces, is the fact that every person we spend any sort of time with will be hiding secrets and about 75% of them will be jerkish people. Again, Cat doesn't tread too far into this territory, so off hand I don't think there is anyone who I immediately want to say "Die, bitch" to, but the blackmailer and later his girlfriend will come closest.

Finally, we know that in the end, the killer will tell us their entire reason for killing everybody, giving no thought to the fact that there is little physical evidence that could be used to convict them in a court of law. This is fine, though, as they have about a 95% chance of getting killed in the end, anyway.


Lori Ponytail reports to uncle about the driver of the car, but she can't see the passenger's face. In the meantime, a POV shows us the soon-to-be-multiple-murderer watching them closely as they walk off.


Scene 03: In the apartment of Uncle and Lori, he sends her off to bed so he can go to work. He makes crossword puzzles using braille pieces and a grid-marked board.


Commentary: I like this career choice, actually, because a) it's unusual and b) it gives us insight into the sharp mind at work, which makes it far more plausible that he could actually assist in an investigation with the crusading reporter (which is not an unusual career choice in these things). We'll also find later that before his eyesight loss, 'Cookie' was a reporter, also.


Outside the apartment, 'Cookie' hears a car door slam shut and footfalls outside. He suddenly goes to Lori's room to check on if she's awake (I think he was going to have her look out of the window to see who was out there). We get a very quick flash of someone falling to the ground.


Commentary: But I can't tell if this is for our benefit, or if 'Cookie' was supposed to be having some sort of psychic flash. I do know that he hears a flashback/echo of the snatch of conversation he heard earlier - why a car door and footsteps outside cause him to relive that is unknown. Maybe he's just bored and really wants to build a mystery where there really shouldn't be one, yet? It's one of those lapses of logic that occur regularly where a giallo is occurring.


Cookie goes to a window and leans out to ... uh... listen? Yes, let's say that he's listening to the night. Again, why? I do not know. But it gives us the opportunity to get a very close up shot of a brown eye looking around nervously, presumably up at Karl Malden hanging out of his window and looking like he might be seeing the killer below, even though he's blind and was walking with a white tipped cane.



Scene 04: Still in POV-cam, 'we' sneak onto the grounds of somewhere (It is not Cookie and Lori's apartment complex, and we'll find out all about where we've been in the morning). We use a crowbar to force our entry. POV-ing our way inside, we sneak down a hallway, where we're almost caught by anonymous people. They're dressed in lab coats, and thanks to the blurb, I think we can guess we're robbing a research institute.

One of these scientists is bidding the other good-bye for the night and goes off into the locker room, alone. 'We' sneak by the locker room and then make a silent dash for an office. Our target is a file cabinet marked 'Genetics' in a lab.


Scene 05: In the meanwhile, that scientist that was leaving for the night? Well, he's arrived at the guard gate. Will the security guard be discovered before we can get what we're after and get out of there?!

Scientist-guy honks for security guard, but there is no response. He sighs that the guard must be drunk again, and gets out of his car to let himself out (there is one of those large bars that lifts up and drops down to force you to check in/out before entering/leaving the parking lot). Science-guy sees the security guard's hat lying on the sidewalk... clumsy of us, really.

He checks the guard and finds him bleeding from the back of the head. Science-guy looks up just in time to see our killer's shadow as he leaps (we're not in POV anymore) over a low wall and runs off.


Scene 06: The next morning, we find out where we/the killer was (next door to Cookie and Lori's). It is the Terzi Institute.



'Cookie' Malden is walking by when a car comes up and drops off Reporter Franciscus. He clumsily runs right into Malden and then complains for Karl to watch where he's going. He feels appropriately like a heel when Karl reaches down for his dropped cane and apologizes. Yeah, you'd think, since Karl was standing still and you ran into him.

Malden grabs Franciscus by the wrist and pumps him for information about the hubbub he can hear. He finds out about the robbery and the guard being knocked unconscious the night before. James finally makes his escape, after giving Malden his name.


Commentary: Since I have to check James' character's name spelling on the IMDB, I go ahead and check out Malden's character name as well, so I can stop referring to him as 'Cookie' and by the actor name. So, we have Puzzle Maker Franco Arno and Reporter Carlo Giordani.


Scene 07: Why is beaned Security Guard, with his head wrapped up like a mummy, not in the hospital or at home recuperating, but sitting at the site of his attack, instead?

Uh, anyway, Carlo flashes his press credentials and goes into the institute, where he meets his photographer, Righetto. A bit later he meets the detective in charge, Spini, who he knows casually from other cases. Spini is relatively forthcoming with him, but tells him he wants to get the questions over with so he'll clear out and let them to their jobs. It's a friendly form of professional hostility and the two men have no problem joking with one another as they each pursue their interests in the case.

The detective reports to Carlo that the thief hadn't taken anything. He reports that nothing has come up missing at all from the Institute.


Commentary: Either the detective is wrong, lying, or 'we' didn't find what we were after in the file cabinet..., which has to do with a genetics screening and we'll talk a little bit about it when we get there. Right now, the point is that so far there doesn't appear to be a motive for the break-in as nothing has been reported missing.


As the Inspector is laying out the timeline they have so far for the break in, Giordani's attention is taken by the arrival of Ana Terzi, daughter of the owner/boss of the Terzi Institute, looking for her father. She will also have a motive to be a killer, making her a possible suspect. When she goes up the stairs, the Inspector continues with his background information for the reporter about all of the genetic things that the Institute is involved in, including screenings for rich folks who want to make sure their kids will be 'high quality' and research into genetic diseases and disorders.



Scene 08: Upstairs, Director Terzi has called his top administrators and scientists to remind them that despite the investigation ongoing, their research remains highly confidential in nature. When Ana comes in, her father introduces her to the District Attorney, the Chief of Police and the Chief Detective - hinting that there may be problems for Detective Spini with getting to the bottom of things, that may require an Enterprising Reporter and a Brave Crossword Puzzle Creator to do their own investigating to reach the truth.


Commentary: I do have to ask, what the hell is this?! White sports socks with reddish-brown dress shoes? And this guy? He's not just a scientist but a Gay Man... Gay - wearing these socks and this pair of shoes, together? I think not.



But, this does segue me into stating how much I appreciate Argento for including gay characters in his films who aren't treated wrongly... okay, they do get themselves dead... but since this is a giallo, it isn't personal. Everybody gets dead in these things and I never get the impression that Argento has ever thought of gay characters as being for canon fodder or contempt, so I really appreciate that.



Terzi, the elder, is pressing upon the officials how important it is that what they are working on not be released for public consumption. One of the scientists present, a young and good looking guy with dark hair, reminds those present that just because nothing was taken, doesn't mean that nothing was photographed. He is Dr. Casoni and he suggests this could have been a break in for industrial espionage against the Institute. Terzi is a bit of an insufferable prick about that suggestion and Dr. Braun (the gay guy with the mismatched socks and shoes) is quick to agree that there is no evidence to support the espionage hypothesis (yeah, he refers to it as a hypothesis because he's an egghead). Of course, if it was espionage, there wouldn't be much evidence, would there? I mean, not if they knew what they were doing. Well, moving on....


Scene 09: Elsewhere, in that lab that 'we' broke into, a man is looking in the Genetics cabinet and seems to have noticed something out of place. He gets a sly smile on his face and then sits for a moment in thought. He rings upstairs and asks for someone, but we don't know who, yet....


Scene 10: Still in the building, Reporter Giordani is wandering around just getting a feel for the Institute. He stops outside of a particular office, the office of Dr. Calibresi. Because his door is different from all of the others on this floor, we're able to recognize this as the room 'we' broke into, containing the secret file. He's now speaking to whoever he asked for in Terzi's office, putting everyone in that meeting under suspicion. He tells whoever it is that he doesn't care why his files were messed with. We also find out that Calibresi was the driver in the car last night... the one who told somebody that he had no choice but to turn the information over to, presumably, the Director.

Alas, I don't think Calibresi is long for this world... you see, whoever is on the other end of the line has apparently insisted on meeting somewhere to try to convince him not to go public with whatever was in the file that was tampered with during the break in. Instead of immediately taking what he knows and going to the Director with whatever is so ground shaking it will cause multiple murders, he instead agrees to meet the whoever-on-the-phone at some pre-arranged place later that afternoon. That seems like a relatively bad idea, but I always consider telling someone you're about to ruin their life/reputation/work prospects/ego well in advance of actually doing so to be a relatively bad idea, anyway. It tends to lead to being murdered in order to keep you quiet.

Just after hanging up the phone, Calibresi's girlfriend, Bianca, drops by. She's disappointed to find out that he can't leave right away, but has to stay around for a while. Just before she leaves, Dr. Calibresi confides in her that he is the only one who knows what was taken in the break in - and that he knows who did it - but swears her to secrecy. He tells her that he doesn't want to go to the police, but to use what he knows as leverage in a scheme to 'take a huge step forward' in his career.


Scene 11: Later that afternoon, Calibresi is at a train station for his meeting with whoever he called in the meeting upstairs. Whoever it is, they're running late and Calibresi is getting antsy. Also wandering through the scene is Photographer Righetto. He joins a bunch of other photogs, waiting for something or someone, passing the Doctor.

We get more POV and the close-up-brown-eye (That really sounds bad, doesn't it? I feel like I have to point out that it isn't some sick or pornish 'brown eye', but the ocular sort of brown eye - but that might just be me). Anyway, our so-far-not-a-murderer is spying on the scientist waiting for him/her. In the meantime, a train is due in minutes carrying someone important that the photographers are there to catch.

The POV cam keeps an eye on the approaching train, waiting until it is pulling into the station. And then he or she walks toward Doctor Calibresi, where the man is looking like he's about to complain about our POV being late. Well, 'we' cut that off right quick with a hard shove.

The Photographer just happens to swing around at the train whistle and snap off a photo as the scientist (well, ex-scientist now, heh-heh) gets his face smashed in by the train as his too-obviously a mannequin body gets flipped and rolled along the platform. The photographer reminds everyone about the arriving starlet and like sheep, all of the picture takers flock around her, forgetting the exciting story of the man who just went headless in front of them in favor of a vacuous PR stunt... See, it isn't with the arrival of Cable News, that things turned so superficial and pathetic.


Scene 12: The next day, Franco has stopped working on his crossword puzzle job and is... uh... wood carving? He's etching something or other. Anyway, Adorable Lori comes in (and for some reason, I keep wanting to call her Susan... what is it with me and names?! Remember when I wanted to call Barbara, Judith, based on the actress' name in the review for Night of the Living Dead? Well, I have no reason at all for wanting to call Lori, Susan... except she looks like a little Susan). Lori is apparently in the routine of reading the paper to 'Cookie', but Franco says later.

When Lori throws the paper onto his desk, though, the story above the fold catches her attention. The picture of the man killed by the train is the same man that she saw in the driver's seat of the car that Franco insisted she eavesdrop on. She excitedly tells Uncle Franco all about it. Lori reads the article and mentions that the dead guy was a scientist at the Terzi Institute, which is too much of a coincidence when you consider the very recent robbery. But also, the photographer just happened to catch the man in mid-fall in front of the train that led to his demise.


Commentary: And, I must give it up to the crassness of the paper to print a half-page large photo of the scientist about to be smashed and beheaded (or beheaded and then... uh... rolled to a pulp?). Also, how old is Lori and just how long has she been reading tales of death and mayhem from the local paper to Franco? Is he deliberately trying to turn her cynical and hard?


Franco Arno asks Lori about the author of the article and it turns out to have been written by Carlo Giordani, 'natch. We see this in a series of cuts back and forth between the lightbulb moment on Franco's face and Giordani walking, then we're in Giordani's newsroom where we were flashing to - see how fancy directing works?


Scene 13: At the newsroom, Arno re-introduces himself to the reporter. Franco wants to talk about the suspicious timing of the Institute break-in and Dr. Calabresi's sudden death. At first, Giordani doesn't think anything of it, as nothing was stolen during the break in and the Doctor's death appears to be accidental.

This is where Arno reveals to Giordani that before an accident to his sight, he was a newspaper man.



Commentary: I can see why this scene was included, but it plays a bit stilted and clumsy. I'm glad when we move onto the reason for Mr. Arno's visit and away from the clumsily acted banter....


Franco is interested in the photograph of the man falling. Specifically, he wants to know whether the photo was cropped for the paper, or printed completely from the negative. Reporter guy tells him he doesn't know off hand, but can find out easily enough....


Scene 14: ... Righetto picks up the phone at the studio. When the photog reports that he had to cut off a bit on the left of the photo, Carlo asks him to check the contacts and see if there is anything interesting on the left of that photo.

When he looks at the negatives, he does find something interesting... a hand on the far left of the photo, apparently in a pushing gesture. To me it appears to be a male hand, but it is grey and grainy, so that could be a trick on us.

Well, Carlo is very excited about this development (Hah! See... photography - developing... Oh, never mind!) and asks Righetto to print out the whole photo right away, as he's on his way over.


Scene 15: In the newsroom, Carlo asks Franco why he hasn't gone to the police with his suspicions. Franco tells him he doesn't see the police listening to a blind man and a child. Besides, he also shares, he likes to solve puzzles and this one is interesting.


Scene 16: Back at the photographer's developing room, he begins the preparations to blow up and print that incriminating hand photo.


Commentary: I also think we can definitely say the killer is male, because of the arm - it has on a business suit jacket, which would have been out of place on a 1971 woman.


Is anyone shocked when we see the studio door slowly open in the background? Is anyone shocked when Righetto doesn't last long enough to turn over that picture? Alas, the photographer gets a cord looped around his throat far too tightly to loosen and Brown Eye has a firm grasp on it. Poor Righetto... strangled.

But that isn't enough for the killer - he also makes two slash marks with a scalpal - one on each cheek of the dead man.



Commentary: This detail doesn't make any sense to me. I feel like maybe it is a sly way of telling us that the killer must be one of the scientists, but it's really inconclusive: the labs aren't locked so anyone would be able to access one and slip out with it. Also, I don't understand why the killer - within the movie - would take this extra step, except of course that he's a nutso-cuckoo. Actually, as I copy/pasted this into LJ, I think I figured it out - he's making sure that the guy is really dead.


The killer grabs up the negatives and the printed photograph. We're POV-ing our way out of the studio...


Scene 17: ... while outside, Giordano, Lori and Franco are pulling up in the reporter's car. Killer-POV is hiding on the floor below and watches as the reporter heads upstairs before quickly making an exit. Carlo's face has now been seen!

And, what's more - POV sees Lori and Franco sitting in the car out front! Franco Arno seems to briefly sense that the killer is looking at him using his Jedi Blind Powers, but the murderer-POV makes his way down the street. Carlo comes down a minute later, having found Righetto's body on the floor of his studio. He has Lori and Franco leave the scene, while he waits for the police to arrive.


Commentary: James does some good work here, reacting to the death of his friend. He really does appear to be on the verge of being sick.


Scene 18: We cut to a little later, where Giodani is sitting waiting for Spini to join him in his office. A 'comedy relief' detective is going on and on about the recipe for some dish he's fallen in love with that his wife made. He quickly wears out his welcome, especially since Carlo is still obviously upset about the murder of his photographer and not the least bit interested in food. Which, Carlo finally exasperatedly yells at him... after he's done.

Spini finally comes back with the coroner's report on Righetto, which doesn't contain any surprises, considering we all saw him/POViewed him getting deaded. Spini asks for a favor from Carlo: that he not tie together Calabresi's and Righetto's deaths in the paper. He doesn't want the killer or killers to be scared off by the fact the police are sure they're related.

Giordano, his reporter instincts not at all dulled by his loss, starts pumping the detective (not the good pumping, alas) for information on Calabresi. All he gets from the detective is the information about the girlfriend, Bianca Merusi, who we met very briefly already.


Scene 19: Some time later, we're looking down on the Terzi parking structure. Carlo is doing the watching from the Arno apartment with binoculars. He names each of the people he sees, all of them possible killers for reason(s) as yet unknown. Everyone named is one of the scientists at the Institute, of course, except for Dr. Braun's driver and Ana Terzi.


Commentary: I am in love with Ana's car. I am not in love with Ana's bizarre tops which come with these ... ribbon things that wind around her arms and dangle. It's very 70's, which decade's clothing I have complained about already in other posts. But still... I could almost overlook her choice in clothing and her female-ness if she'd just buy me one of those cars.

The hell? What is up with those sleeves?


Ana spies Carlo looking down on her and shoots him a glare. We also see that the police (we see the recipe detective, Morsella, in the passenger seat munching an apple) are tailing either Ana or her father - both are in Ana's fabulous car.

We stay in Franco's apartment, where he tells Carlo that the key to the whole puzzle is in the Institute and the police know it. Lori comes in and Carlo asks about Franco's 'Cookie' knickname. Blah-blah, domestic scene thing.

Carlo and Franco put together a plan on how to proceed in their puzzle solving/investigation. The reporter leaves to try to get a meeting with Terzi's daughter, while Franco decides he and Lori will drop in on Bianca Meruzi and ask her about Calabresi.


Commentary: No, it doesn't make a lot of sense that Bianca would open up and discuss her personal business with a puzzle maker and his niece that she does not know. However, since potential witnesses are constantly blabbing away to crusading reporters or non-police people 'trying to find out the truth', I won't hold it against the movie.


Scene 20: Giordano is next seen sitting in a barber chair getting a shave with an old-fashioned straight-razor, which always makes me automatically nervous as shit, even though the barber will obviously have nothing to do with anything. He's watching the police watching Ana who's in an office building doing whatever. And the police are not even trying to be inconspicuous. I don't know if this is deliberate or incompetence... since this is a giallo, it could go either way.

The barber makes Giordano more and more nervous as he discusses the recent murders in the paper while waving around that razor... not to mention, he's wearing coke-bottle glasses, so I probably wouldn't have requested a shave in the first place. I'm assuming this is meant to be comical... let's move on - none of this has anything to do with anything.


Commentary: James Franciscus is not only a really handsome man, but his eyes are so frickin' BLUE. He's also pretty funny in this scene as he gets more and more nervous, but it's hard to blame him with the barber waving that razor in front of his face, like he does.


For some reason, Detective Recipe and his assigned partner - Detective NoName - walk across the street, not paying attention to where one or the other of them should be watching. This allows Carlo to slip across the street to the building where at least Ana (and possibly her father - I don't know how much time later after the parking lot scene this is) is located. Oh, yeah - I remember. The building is a luxury apartment and this is the Terzi residence which takes up two floors.

Carlo barges his way in past the butler with a tale of a fire at the Institute. He confronts Papa Terzi with the claim that Calabresi's death wasn't any accident and gets invited up to the home office. In the meanwhile, he's also making eyes with Ana Terzi... who has hair big enough to make her way into the 80's.

We get a quick cutaway to the Arnos arriving at Bianca's apartment, so I won't scene break. Back at the Terzi's, Carlo makes his way back downstairs, so it must have been a very short conversation with Mr. Terzi. Also at the Terzi residence is some scientist or another who isn't in the movie enough to be a viable suspect, so I'll ignore him. I think he's the possible fiance of Ana or something, but I'll just spill that he's unimportant to the plot and move on.

The point here is not random guy, the butler or Papa Terzi, unsurprisingly, but Ana Terzi - who Reporter Carlo now joins in a parlor to question.

Oh, the other pointless guy - Dr. Esson and the offer isn't marriage, but Ana becoming his mistress. She has apparently turned down his 'generous offer' several times already. Also, unsurprising, is that Ana and Carlo immediately don't much like one another, which means they'll end up in bed at some point - possibly head over miserable heels in luuurrve *blech - maybe they'll be happy with just sexing it up*. Anyway, Ana tries to get some information about what he spoke to her father about, but Carlo is not immediately forthcoming.


Scene 21: Well, apparently Ana likes it when a guy tells her he doesn't like how she is acting all aristocratic, posing to show off her legs like a spoiled rich-girl, because she immediately wants to make peace by leaving with Carlo for a drive. They get into Carlo's cute sports car, but Ana insists on driving - and she does so like a maniac, with the police tailing her (so they're watching her for some reason - even though I'd think watching Mr. Terzi would be more logical).


Scene 22: At the apartment of Bianca, we're joining the Arnos just as they're leaving. We don't know exactly what was said, but we can get an idea. Bianca apologizes for not being much help, but mentions that the police already looked through her apartment for clues and didn't find anything - she doesn't know what she could do (but she sure is looking shifty).


Commentary: I think we can hazard a guess that Dr. Calabresi may have provided some sort of clue to Bianca regarding what was going to allow him to make a great leap forward in his career, possibly by blackmailing his killer rather than turning over the information he found like he claimed he had to do in the car at the beginning. Franco has passed on this idea to Bianca as we'll see when she suddenly starts tearing up her apartment in a few minutes.


We get a close up of Bianca playing with her pendant, which looks about as big as a Grandmother clock, around her neck. This is a timepiece, which Lori identifies for Franco when he asks her about the sounds he kept hearing (Bianca apparently has a nervous habit of sliding it across its chain).


In her apartment, with god-awful wallpaper, Bianca gets on the phone, looking thoughtful. She tells somebody on the other end that there is trouble ahead of them and tells whoever it is about Franco Arno coming to see her.


Scene 23: Crazy driving with Ana Terzi, as she notes that the police have been tailing her and she's about tired of that. Carlo, probably thinking about how much his insurance rates are going jump when she mows down some pedestrians, white knuckles it.

We have Komedy Old People trying to dodder across the street as first Terzi and then the police nearly flatten them... LOL LOL LOL - No, wait. Not any LOL.


Commentary: I have to say that Ana seems about as amused over Carlo's reactions to her nearly smashing into another car head on as she is with the thrill of the chase, trying to dodge the law. I don't know if this makes her a sociopath or just someone who has had their fill of being spied on, but I kind of like her right now. I also have to mention the shot of James jamming his foot onto the floor as if there is a break on his side of the car, because my mother does this to me all the frickin' time when she sees brake lights in front of us, even if the car ahead is 5 car lengths away. It is really annoying - and she isn't subtle about it, either. Finally, this mildly - and I stress mild - humorous chase goes on too long.


Scene 24: Having lost her tail, Terzi and Giordani end up at a rooftop bar with a panorama view that is stunning, of the city. It is late afternoon, approaching dusk.



Commentary: I still hate Catherine Spaak's weird-ass, bandage-wrapped, ribbon-y arm thingies, but this is the first time we really spend any extended period with her. I like her character here, as she becomes less of a surface-y rich bitch and more cooperative with sharing information with Giordano.


Over drinks, Terzi shares her views about the scientists that aren't dead and are working for her father at the Institute. She also shares the sort of work going on at the Institute. The government study the Institute is involved in is in regards to the XYY chromosome, a genetic abnormality that indicates criminal tendencies.


Commentary: I feel the need to tell you here that this is the whole reason for the killing spree, because we have to go into the research here a bit. This was a big topic, that I clearly remember discussing in science class at some point, though I don't remember which grade I was in, or how long it was after this movie chose it as a plot point. Basically, though, like all research announcements, it was hailed as a break through that the media kept repeating was going to allow science to determine who would be violent criminals someday before they got that way and with some sort of genetic treatment would eliminate murder and rapes - despite scientists the world over trying to tamp down those sorts of wild expectations. Feel free to read all about it at the Wiki... the point is that with it being such big news, it was included as the primary instigator of the deaths in this film.


They spend hours talking as Ana digs into the details and histories of the various suspects with Carlo. This is where Ana tells Carlo that Dr. Braun is a 'strange one' and hangs out at a local homosexual club (which is really about the most boring looking bar imaginable).


Scene 25: Carlo decides to visit the queer club to see if he can find and speak to Dr. Braun.


Commentary: I have to say, I am impressed with how this scene is approached. Except for being slightly taken aback by the drag queen at the door, Carlo isn't made to be creeped out by Argento or to respond in a straight-man-in-queer-bar panic when he's flirted with. If anything, Carlo is flattered when his beautiful eyes are mentioned. The film's attitude of the men in this place isn't negative, which is a nice change of pace and James Franciscus also handles the male flirtation scene with aplumb. I also really appreciate that Braun isn't a suspect because he's 'deviant' nor is he targeted because he's gay. He just is and it makes no difference to the film's perspective. I shudder to think how this scene and these characters would have been looked upon in say a Steve McQueen or John Wayne film of the same period.

But enough of my gay blather - let's get to back to the investigation -



Carlo finds Professor (did we know he was a Professor - I thought he was a Doctor) Braun in a group of friends, and with his prickly, jealous ... well, boyfriend might be overstating things. Anyway, Carlo asks Braun to step over to the bar, where Braun's companion glares daggers at them. Braun is the flirty one, until Giordano mentions his reporter gig. That detail throws a wet blanket on things. He goes to get up and Carlo places his hand on his arm, which causes the companion, Manuel, to attempt to intervene, until Braun says he'll speak with him... Manuel seethes (and is a possessive asshat, but we'll get the feeling that he has to keep a close eye on Braun if he doesn't want him tramping around).

Carlo suggests that Calabresi's not-accidental death may have something to do with the government research being sold to foreign pharmaceutical companies - though what his proof is? I think he's pulling this 'theory' out of his ass. Anyway, Braun acts bored and slightly hostile during the whole interview claiming he doesn't care why Calabresi was murdered (which seems rather pricky of him) or whether his death was accidental or deliberate (which seems assholish of him). Braun, while patting Carlo's hand, makes vague statements about how dangerous industrial espionage can be, which may or may not be threatening (but obviously Carlo's theory is way off base, as I've already stated).

In order to be made extra-suspicious of Braun, we see him very clearly smoking...


Scene 26: ... and, not only is smoking evil, but our next scene is a Killer-POV as 'we' are smoking! Are we Dr. Braun?

We are staring at a silouette behind an apartment window. Our POV changes to objective again inside the apartment. It's Bianca's. She is currently ruffling through a desk (which I suppose belonged to Calabresi, suggesting they were living together before his unfortunate meeting with the train), looking for whatever might have been left as a clue by her dead boyfriend/fiance, Calabresi, thanks to Franco's suggestion she may have a clue stashed somewhere. Since she already said the police have been through the place, you'd think she'd start somewhere not so obvious as inside a desk drawer - but I suppose she needs to start somewhere, and it's not like she's wasting my time... oh, wait....

So, anyway, a picture on the desk of her and Calabresi standing in front of his car makes her think the clue might have been left inside it. She grabs the spare car key.


Scene 27: Going to the train station, where he died, she finds the car that has collected quite the pile of parking tickets on its windshield. She wisely sneaks to the car so that she doesn't have to claim it and pay off her dead boyfriend's outrageous parking fees. She finds a reminder note on the dashboard re: the meeting he scheduled at the depot with mysterious killer, but the name is blocked from our view. Thinking, she folds the note into a small square and slips it into a hidden compartment in the clock pendant.

She quickly returns to the cab she took to the depot and has him hurry away before the parking attendant can charge her for that car being parked...


Commentary: Although I truly must object to the police not having found and impounded a victim's car as part of the investigation into his 'accident', until they could rule out foul play. I must strenuously object, now that Detective Spini thinks the death was related to the murdered photographer. Were Italians in 1971 not required to actually register their vehicles? Oh... and I hate Bianca's hair. It looks like a wig, especially her bangs - which just emphasizes how square her forehead is.


Unfortunate, Bianca. You're being watched by us through Murderer-POV. And we see you fumbling around in the victim's car and taking far too long sitting in the driver's seat not searching to believe anything except you may have found something related to our identity. Well, we're not going to stand for that!



JUMP TO PART II....
Tags: review cat o nine tails
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